The Boat That Rocked (Pirate Radio)

Movie Information

The Asheville Film Society will screen The Boat That Rocked Tuesday, Dec. 21, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge of The Carolina Asheville. Hosted by Xpress movie critics Ken Hanke and Justin Souther. Hanke is the artistic director of the Asheville Film Society.
Score:

Genre: Quasi-Historical Comedy With Music
Director: Richard Curtis (Love Actually)
Starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Bill Nighy, Nick Frost, Rhys Ifans, Tom Sturridge, Gemma Arterton
Rated: R

Here we have the Asheville Film Society’s Christmas special: Richard Curtis’ The Boat That Rocked (2009), which played in the U.S. in an abbreviated and re-edited form as Pirate Radio. This is the first—and possibly the only—time that Curtis’ original version has been shown in the area. If you liked Pirate Radio, chances are excellent that you’ll like The Boat That Rocked even better. Not only is it about 20 minutes longer than the version we saw theatrically last year—which, among other things, expands the range of music on the soundtrack—but the film is often edited quite differently and some of the musical choices have been changed. Yes, it’s still the fictionalized story of the shipboard pirate-radio station Radio Caroline that provided rock music banned by the BBC to an eager audience, but it’s a richer film experience in this form.

When I first saw Pirate Radio, I knew it had been cut from its original length. Some things were obvious. Songs that appeared in the credits were nowhere to be heard in the film. The most notable of these turns out to have been the excision of the Small Faces’ “Lazy Sunday.” It’s not merely the loss of the song that hurts (though that’s regretable enough), but Curtis’ handling of it is important. It’s essentially an homage to the Richard Lester Beatles films of the era, A Hard Day’s Night (1964) and Help! (1965). This is a pretty significant aspect of the time.

More telling, though, was the way the film had been altered in the way it was edited. The whole film flows differently—more smoothly—in its original form. As much as I’d loved Pirate Radio, I always felt—and continued to feel every time I saw it—that the shot it freeze frames on at the end was ill-chosen. More, it struck me that the obvious shot to have used was right there for the taking. Well, guess what? That shot was indeed the one Curtis chose for The Boat That Rocked—and that’s what you’ll see here.

Otherwise, my original Pirate Radio review will serve to fill in the rest: www.mountainx.com/movies/review/pirate_radio.

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About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress since December 2000. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

12 thoughts on “The Boat That Rocked (Pirate Radio)

  1. Dionysis

    “If you liked Pirate Radio, chances are excellent that you’ll like The Boat That Rocked even better.”

    I liked Pirate Radio a lot, and have no doubt I’ll enjoy this expanded version even more.

  2. I think I mentioned this to you before Ken, but I never heard so many negative comments about one of your reviews as I did about PIRATE RADIO. This film was ok, definitely entertaining, but a lot of my customers didn’t think it was deserving of five stars. I would be curious to see the changes in the original cut.

  3. Ken Hanke

    I think I mentioned this to you before Ken, but I never heard so many negative comments about one of your reviews as I did about PIRATE RADIO.

    Oh, certainly not more than 10 times. The thing is I know an awful lot of people who did and do like or even love the film.

    This film was ok, definitely entertaining, but a lot of my customers didn’t think it was deserving of five stars

    Do you personally use the response of your customers to decide how many stars you would give a movie? I mean, sure, I’m sorry they didn’t like it, but it doesn’t change my opinion of the film. Are you wanting me to recant?

    I would be curious to see the changes in the original cut.

    Well, the changes are not going to change the basic story or thematic elements. As I said, I think the original version is better and richer, but if you didn’t like Pirate Radio, I don’t think you’ll like Curtis’ cut either.

  4. Ken Hanke

    I have no reason whatever to believe that Jeremy has a financial interest in this film.

  5. I have no reason whatever to believe that Jeremy has a financial interest in this film.

    I need to look at those producer credits again.

    For the record, I LIKED the film, no LOVE however.

  6. Ken Hanke

    For the record, I LIKED the film, no LOVE however

    It actually took me two viewings to really love it. Then when a certain Australian gentleman sent me the original cut, I think I watched it three times in one day.

  7. Me

    Is the UK version different than the US version. The version that i saw on cable tv didn’t have January Jones in it but she is credited.

  8. Ken Hanke

    Is the UK version different than the US version.

    That’s pretty much what the review here was about — the differences between the two versions.

    The version that i saw on cable tv didn’t have January Jones in it but she is credited

    I don’t know what you watched on cable, but she played Elenore and her scenes are in both versions.

  9. Ken Hanke

    Due to technical difficulties tonight’s showing of The Boat That Rocked has had to be moved to tomorrow — Wed., Dec. 22 — at 8 p.m.

    Sorry for any inconvenience, but the movie just won’t show without a working projector.

  10. Jim Donato

    After we saw the UK cut last week at The Carolina, we were gobsmacked that the scene of Gavin in South America, having the epiphany that brought him back to the airwaves was not among the scenes in the Director’s cut. Looks like I’ll need to obtain the UK DVD and still re-edit the film myself to maximize our viewing pleasure. That was the third time we saw it and it gets better each time we watch it. Thanks for showing this during a week when we could stay up late enough to attend!

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